Media & Entertainment

Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley, Rebuffing Sale Offers, Says Revenues Grew 500% in Q1 2014, 600% In 2013


crowley cnbc bigger

Foursquare — the app that has shifted its business model from a place to track where your friends are going to the go-to place for people searching for local information — is fast approaching its fifth birthday (it’s March 11, for those of you prepping presents). And CEO Dennis Crowley wants us to know that it’s still growing — in revenues at least.

Yesterday, speaking on CNBC alongside Foursquare investor Ben Horowitz, he said that revenues at his startup grew 600% in 2013, and in the first quarter of 2014, they were on track to be up by 500% compared to Q1 of 2013.

Crowley didn’t give concrete numbers, but doing some back-of-the napkin math, and assuming linear growth, that gives Foursquare 2013 revenues of $14 million, and Q1 2014 revenues of $21 million (based on the widely reported figure of Foursquare making just $2 million in 2012).

That’s $1 million shy of the $15 million-$20 million that was estimated for 2013. Still, it is a sign that the company’s ambitions to generate revenues from businesses and other advertising around its app is indeed bearing fruit.

It’s also likely before a licensing deal comes into play with new investor Microsoft to power location across Windows and Windows Mobile services.

What’s also interesting about Foursquare’s revenue growth is that it points to another kind of inflection point for the company, recalling the one Crowley discovered a couple of years ago when he saw that more people were using the app than were checking in).

Foursquare seems to be becoming more B2B focused than ever before.

For an app that had a lot of early adopter, nerdy consumer buzz when it first launched, Foursquare these days appears to have slowed down in terms of user growth. Currently it has around 45 million users, but when you look at downloads, Foursquare has actually been on something of a slight downward trend, judging by the figures over the last year from App Annie. It ranks the app as 51st in the social networking category in the U.S. and 457th overall as of yesterday.

Could that pose a problem longer term? No audience, then no revenues from marketing and advertising, after all. There are licensing deals, and Foursquare has yet to commercialise its API used by zillions of other apps to provide a location layer.

Still, that stall may be one reason why Crowley is also pushing another idea: the concept of Foursquare being used without people even thinking of it.

“A lot of these tools have been designed where, if you want to use them, you have to think about using them,” Crowley said of the wider trend in smartphones and the apps we use. “But what’s starting to happen is that with all the sensors [on devices] you have the opportunity to be smart and contextual. We know when you are in a restaurant you’ve never been in before or a city you’ve never been in before. How can Foursquare come to life when you are not thinking about it?”

(Sidenote: this could come in very handy for the four CNBC journalists chatting with Crowley, who seemed genuinely surprised when he told them that they could use the app to, for example, find a place to eat in an unfamiliar city. “A lot of people don’t really understand what we’re building at Foursquare,” Crowley said forgivingly.)

Of course, given the news of WhatsApp and its $19 billion acquisition by Facebook, they also asked a question about exits.

Foursquare’s been a rumored target for a number of tech companies in recent times, so how much pressure does Crowley feel to sell? “We’ve had plenty of opportunities to sell the company and we turned them down, a number of times,” Crowley said. “What we’re doing is not a sprint from A to B; it’s a marathon.”

Horowitz then agreed with that concept, at least in principle, if not citing Foursquare specifically.

“There are exits involved but it starts with what is the size of the market and are you going to win? From an economics standpoint it doesn’t make sense to sell,” he said.

Citing the story that Yahoo was in a position to buy Google in 2006 but Google said no, Horowitz said that was obviously the right move. “Google was in a bigger market and was going to be number one, but if you are not going to be number one and a company can help make you that then that is an interesting opportunity.”

Time will tell on which side of that equation Foursquare will fall.

You can see an excerpt of the Crowley interview here:

More TechCrunch

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

16 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies